Fall Sports Teams Will Not Officially Compete During Spring


The Northeast Conference is sponsoring a season for fall sports athletes to compete this spring, after the pandemic forced all competition canceled last fall.

Saint Francis, however, announced last month that it has opted not to participate in the abbreviated NEC model adopted by the league. The news quickly spread across the internet and SFU’s student-athlete population.

“I am really devastated – it’s my senior year,” said soccer player Camryn Tirado. “I was supposed to be finishing up this year. Now I have to think about taking my fifth year.”

“It was very frustrating to receive that news, mainly because a lot of us haven’t played football in a full year,” said redshirt junior running back Marques Deshields.

The way that most SFU student-athletes first received the news – via social media and text messages – also upset many of them. An online petition was established after the announcement – urging University administrators to reverse their decision and opt into the NEC model – and it collected almost 700 signatures.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also quickly scheduled a meeting with Father Malachi, Vice President for Student-Development Frank Montecalvo and Director of Athletics James Downer after the announcement. 

Montecalvo acknowledged that way the information was relayed to student-athletes was handled poorly.

“Communication could have been much clearer,” he said.

Father Malachi said that the University has been forced to make a lot of difficult decisions in the midst of the pandemic.

 “I was getting pressure from the Governor’s office to further delay the start of the (semester),” said the University president. “I was getting pressure from the Governor’s office to start virtually.”

All of this factored into the decision regarding fall sports.

It is also important to note that while SFU will not be competing in the NEC model, the school’s fall sports teams are still permitted to schedule exhibition competitions this spring.

“I’ve come to accept it and I’m not mad anymore,” said junior field hockey player Kate Viera. “Initially it felt incredibly personal.”

Another concern regarding the decision relates to student-athletes’ mental health.

“It’s quite stressful because we don’t even know the next time we will be able to play,” said Tirado. “We never saw this coming. It definitely is taking its toll on our mental health.”

“To sit back and watch some of the guys I know at other schools get ready for a season is heart-aching,” said Deshields. “A lot of us depend on this game, so for it to be taken away can hurt someone mentally.”